STA, 3 June 2020 - The Slovenian Tourism Board (STO) presented on Wednesday a new concept of attracting guests to Slovenia. The country will be promoted as Green&Safe, committed to responsible, safe and green tourism.
Tourist destinations and tourist services providers in Slovenia will carry the Green&Safe label, which means that they follow the standards for responsible travelling.
Thus, the STO would like to preserve and increase trust in the I Feel Slovenia brand and attract guests to the country, whose tourism could see about 70% drop in demand this year.
"In these times of uncertainty because of the new coronavirus, the success of the tourism sector depends on guests' trust, their knowing that they can spend their holidays here without jeopardising their health and safety," the STO wrote.
The standards for responsible travelling had been drawn up by the STO in cooperation with the Economy Ministry, the Slovenian Hospitality Chamber (TGZS) and the National Institute for Public Health (NIJZ).
Posters and flyers are already available for tourist facilities to use and distribute.
Slovenian tourist sector largely depends on foreign guests, who generate 75% of revenue, but this year, efforts have been made for it to be salvaged by domestic guests, who will receive tourist vouchers to be used in Slovenian accommodation facilities.
Borders are also gradually opening, so an increase in foreign guest arrivals is expected soon as well. This year, the tourist sector is mainly counting on guests who will be arriving by car.
STA, 2 June 2020 - Economy Ministry State Secretary Simon Zajc has announced that the government will adopt rules for the use of the long-awaited tourism vouchers this week, and that the system is expected to be up and running not later than at the start of summer school break in any case.
Speaking on an afternoon show at the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija, Zajc said that how quickly the system was set up depended on the Financial Administration (FURS).
Aimed at helping the Slovenian tourism sector recover from the coronavirus epidemic, the vouchers are part of the latest legislative package.
Minors are set to get EUR 50 vouchers and adults EUR 200 vouchers in electronic form, which may be used to pay for accommodation and breakfast in hotels, self-catering units, camps, agritourism farms and other similar facilities.
It is FURS which will reimburse the provider's the costs, while vouchers will have to be spent in their entire sum at once, and not later than on 31 December.
The state secretary said that details regarding the vouchers would be determined in a government decree, which is expected to be adopted as early as this week.
"Then it is up to FURS to set up the system. We would like to see and we encourage FURS to do this as soon as possible, but in no case will this happen later than at the start of school holidays," Zajc added.
The last day of school for primary school children is 24 June.
The measure will cost the state EUR 345 million, and visitors who cash in their vouchers are expected to spend an additional EUR 172 million for services they will not be able to cover with them.
STA, 1 June 2020 - Large hotels and spas in Slovenia have been given the green light to reopen on Monday after being closed for almost three months due to the coronavirus epidemic, however the majority remain closed. Some will start welcoming guests at the end of the week, others later on. Border reopening will be a key factor, say hotels.
After allowing accommodation facilities with up to 30 rooms to reopen on 18 May, the government has now given the go-ahead to all hotels regardless of their size, as well as spas, health and fitness centres, and swimming pools.
A number of hotel managers have pointed out though that lifting border restrictions will be a key factor for resuming services since hotels could not be filled to sufficient capacity to guarantee profit without foreign guests.
The border situation is currently uncertain and many believe that reopening in the current circumstances could only aggravate their financial situation.
Hotels in the northern Gorenjska region have not yet reopened. The Bled Sava hotels network, comprised of six hotels, will reopen only one of them this year. The renovated Hotel Park will again welcome guests on 25 June.
Meanwhile, the Triglav Hotel in Bled reopened today. The facility with 22 rooms could have done that sooner but it had opted to wait a bit. There have been some bookings for the end of this week made by Slovenian guests, said the hotel.
Hotels in Kranjska Gora, another popular destination in the north, also remain closed for now. The HIT Alpinea group, the main hotel operator there, plans to start reopening its accommodation facilities gradually, one at a time and depending on occupancy rates.
The Bohinj Eco Hotel will start welcoming guests again in late June or when the restrictions on the border with Austria are lifted.
The casino business in the western Goriška region has not yet resumed - Slovenia's leading gaming company HIT could have already reopened its casinos and hotels, but has instead decided to wait for the reopening of the Slovenian-Italian border since a vast majority of its guests (95%) come from Italy.
Hotels in the coastal town of Piran are gradually going back to normal as well - Hotel Piran will reopen in two phases, starting between 5 and 7 June and wrapping up the transition period between 11 and 14 June.
Phones were ringing off the hook this week with people showing great interest in holidaying at Piran, said the hotel, pointing out that callers were mostly asking about the current situation and border crossing options.
When it comes to spas, Terme Olimia is resuming business as usual on Friday. The Aqualuna waterpark will meanwhile reopen on 12 June.
The spa in eastern Slovenia expects quite a lot of guests mostly due to a promotional offer launched in early May.
Sava Hotels, the country's largest hotel operator, will reopen its hotels across the country gradually from the end of this week, while the campsite Kamp Lucija in Portorož opened on Saturday.
The Zdravilišče Laško spa hotel will also reopen on Friday, mostly welcoming guests seeking rehabilitation treatments, followed by reopening the swimming pool complex on 15 June and the Thermana Park on 19 June.
The latter capitalised on business and sports events in the pre-corona times, but will now have to deal with a lot of those events being cancelled. The hotel is hosting smaller, one-day events this week though, the first after the epidemic.
The Terme Ptuj in north-east also plans to reopen most of its facilities on 15 June, except for indoor swimming pools and saunas, which are to stay closed until further notice.
Hotels in Rogaška Slatina, another famous spa resort in the country, will go back to normal a bit later, starting with Grand Hotel Rogaška on 24 June.
The Terme Zreče spa, near Maribor, will see the reopening of accommodation facilities as early as Wednesday. Cafes and restaurants will be reopened gradually, while saunas will remain closed until health authorities release relevant guidelines, presumably in mid-June.
The Maribor Terme spa plans to reopen only one of its hotels for now - Mercure City Center will welcome guests again on 15 June. Visitors to Slovenia's second largest city could also spend the night at Hotel City, which reopens today.
Accommodation facilities across the country may rely on additional revenue in a form of holiday vouchers which are to be given to all Slovenian citizens. The measure, intended to boost tourism, is part of the third stimulus package, adopted on Friday, however it has not yet entered into effect.
Slovenians will be able to start spending the vouchers (worth EUR 200 for adults and EUR 50 for minors) at the facilities of their choice by 15 June at the latest, said government spokesman Jelko Kacin at today's briefing.
The vouchers could be used until the end of the year. The government is finalising relevant details.
In the wake of the Covid-19 epidemic being effectively over today, most fitness centres across Slovenia reopened as well. Individual and group workouts are allowed, with users required to heed preventive measures.
The Ljubljana GYM24 fitness centre, the only gym in the capital that is open 24/7, reopened when the clock struck midnight.
Among the first gyms to resume services were also Bodifit (BeFit) centres in Ljubljana, Maribor, Celje, Kamnik and Domžale. The centres call on their visitors to enter the facilities one by one, use hand sanitisers as well as face masks whenever they are surrounded by a greater number of people.
Showers are still off-limits so gym users are urged to bring extra clothes with them. They will also be required to sign a statement on their medical status.
Gyms have adapted to the new post-corona reality, including by setting workout equipment at least 2 metres apart from others. The Celje Top Fit gym has meanwhile amended its opening hours, introducing a break between the morning and afternoon shifts to disinfect all the equipment and air the rooms.
STA, 30 May 2020 - The Foreign Ministry has amended somewhat a decree on quarantine requirement for people coming to Slovenia from third countries by adding new exemptions. One of them are people with a permanent or temporary residence in Slovenia.
The decree adopted on Tuesday was amended after the ministry received numerous requests and calls regarding the obligatory quarantine.
Together with the National Institute for Public Health (NIJZ) and the Health Ministry, the Foreign Ministry again looked into the possibility of someone bringing in the virus from third countries and established that some third countries in the region have favourable epidemiologic situation at the moment, so the decree was amended on Friday.
Under the new rules, Slovenian citizens and foreigners with a permanent or temporary residence in Slovenia will not have to go into quarantine. Also exempted from the 14-day quarantine requirement are persons attending a funeral of a relative in Slovenia and those coming for a medical examination or procedure.
Those merely transiting Slovenia in a day, and those who attend kindergarten or school in Slovenia as well as those doing scientific and research work will not be quarantined either if they present a document showing that they tested negative for the virus in the last three days.
People who transport cargo from or into Slovenia from third countries, those transiting the country transporting cargo, and those who work in international transport are also on the list. So are diplomatic personal and members of the civil protection.
This means that a Slovenian citizen returning from a several-day business trip to Serbia will not have to go into quarantine, and neither will foreigners coming to Slovenia on business from EU or Schengen countries.
However, if they will want to spend a few days in the country, they will have to submit a certificate of a negative coronavirus test and give their address in Slovenia.
Citizens of third countries who want to come to Slovenia on business will not be quarantined if they present a statement by the Economy Ministry that the quarantine would cause a major social or economic damage.
The first plane to touch down at Ljubljana airport after two months and a half of severe air traffic restrictions was Air Serbia's on Friday. Half of the 24 passengers were ordered a 14-day quarantine based on the previous decree.
The Interior Ministry said the quarantine orders for those persons remain in place but if there were any changes to the situation, the Health Ministry should be notified.
All our stories on coronavirus and Slovenia
With every adult in Slovenia about to get €200 to spend on tourist accommodation to help kickstart the post-corona summer, we thought we’d take a look at various properties around the country to consider. Since the coast came top in a survey of Slovenes asked to state where they’d like to stay – just after Croatia – we got in touch with Olga Mostepanenko, who runs Piran Vacations offering short-term rentals of various sizes and asked a few questions, which she kindly replied to.
Tell us something about your background.
I’m Canadian, living and working in Switzerland for the last 10 years. I run a consulting company for small business owners. In 2012 I came to Slovenia on vacations and it was love at first sight: breathtaking nature, lovely people and so many cultural and natural treasures to explore!
When did you start renting properties? How has the market changed in this time?
I’ve been renting vacation properties for seven years: from the very early days of Airbnb in Slovenia, all the way into the enormous boom of 2018-2019, followed by complete shutdown of travel industry in March 2020 due to coronavirus – a true roller-coaster! That said, the beauty of the Slovenian seaside hasn’t changed. If anything, it only increased, as new beaches, hiking trails and dining experiences came to life in recent years.
What do you like about life in Piran?
I have many interests: art and science, travel, friends, nature hikes and historic architecture, the sea and stars... All of these are reasons to come to Piran, and I come as often as I can! As a host I’m happy to welcome you to Piran and help you plan a perfect seaside stay: get lost in the winding cobblestone streets of our medieval town, climb Piran’s ancient town walls, enjoy our many music festivals, discover the best beaches, sea lookouts, nature walks and bike trails – and, of course, just soak in the sun and enjoy delicious local fish, seafood, olive oil, truffles, fruits, ice-cream... I’m sure anyone who visits will keep coming back, this is the magic of Piran!
What effect has coronavirus had?
This is one of those once in a lifetime events that puts our resilience to a test. For sure, most of us are facing a big, negative impact on our businesses and employment. Fortunately, health-wise the situation on the coast is very much back to normal after just two months: the epidemic in Slovenia is over, Piran is full of happy holiday-makers, so let’s be thankful for that! As business people, we have to work smarter and better to compensate for the lost months and to brace ourselves for the recession ahead for Europe and the world. We want to serve each guest in the best possible way to bring back consumer confidence and smiles.
What do you think will happen this summer?
Thinking positively, the seaside is the best place to be in times of health concerns: sea breeze, sunshine, high-quality locally grown food – there are no better things to help build immunity! The Slovenian coast is a short drive from anywhere in the country and neighboring nations, and so many people have great access to the natural treasures of Piran, soaking in the history and culture as an added benefit. Private apartments are also well-positioned to serve as safe havens, creating your own “family bubble” where you don’t have to mix with strangers so much.
What is your opinion of the tourism voucher plan?
People were saying that seaside vacations outside Slovenia, especially Croatia, seem more affordable, and the government has done something about that. Now more locals can benefit from amazing holidays at home, as opposed to going somewhere cheaper destinations, where healthcare or hygiene standards may be not as high as in Slovenia. It’s a great opportunity for Piran, but also for other destinations in the country.
With that said, can you tell us about some of your properties on the coast?
We believe everyone – a solo traveler, couple, family or larger group – deserves a welcoming home in Piran. So we offer a variety of apartments and houses, all in the very heart of historic Piran and within 1-3-minutes’ walk from the beach. And it’s our pleasure to recommend activities to help you become a temporary local: shopping at the farmer’s market, enjoying the sea, people-watching at the grand Tartini Square, eating at the best local restaurants.
Thinking about specific properties, for a couple or family with young kids we offer two-room apartments (here and here) in a comfortable house right off Tartini Square: watch festivals from your window or enjoy a sea view from the common roof terrace! Feel immediately at home:
- clean and disinfected private apartments
- Wi-Fi, air con, bed linens & towels, washing machine
- kitchens with large fridge/freezer, stove, oven, plates, pots & pans, cooking supplies
- fully renovated bathrooms, free toiletries
- two-minute walk to swimming, supermarket, restaurants, farmers' market
For a family of 4-6 we are happy to offer a private apartment directly on the sea, with a gorgeous view – just walk out to the beach and seaside promenade! Enjoy a spacious living room, fully equipped kitchen, two bedrooms, beautiful bathroom and two balconies.
- the kitchen is custom-made from Slovenian oak and includes a large fridge/freezer, dishwasher, stove, oven, coffee machine, tea kettle and cupboards full of chinaware, cutlery, pots & pans, kitchen utensils, basic cooking supplies
- the fully renovated bathroom is equipped with a shower cabin, sink, toilet and a washing machine; enjoy complementary toiletries & laundry detergent
- the bedroom comes with a king-size bed and is facing a quiet street, while the kids’ bedroom has bunk beds and a sea view.
For a larger group (up to 12 people) we offer your own house with terrace and sea view
It’s all yours: a historic renovated house with four bedrooms, three bathrooms and a spectacular private roof terrace - ideal for a family! 150 m2. of living space over five floors of a historic Piran house, a registered monument.
- free Wi-Fi, air conditioner on each floor, bed linens & towels, washing machine
- clean and disinfected
- fridge/freezer, stove, oven, chinaware, pots & pans, cooking supplies
- private roof terrace is spacious and offers amazing views of Piran & the sea
- perfect Old Town location: 2-minute walk to swimming, supermarket, restaurants
Anything else you would like to say?
As things begin to open up again, and international travel becomes a possibility once more, a number of airline have announced their plans to restart services connecting Ljubljana with other European cities. As reported on Ex-Yu Aviation, your best choice for regional news from the skies, the latest details are as follows.
Air Serbia will be the first to resume services, on 29 May, followed by Wizz Air, connecting Charleroi (Belgium) and Ljubljana three times a week from 16 June. Next is Air France, restarting operations on 24 June with two flights a week, while Brussels Airlines will offer its services on a three times a week basis from 29 June on.
EasyJet, Ljubljana’s busiest carrier, is planning to restart flights from London Gatwick and Stansted on July 1, although its service to and from Berlin is unlikely to begin before 25 October. British Airways’ flights from London Heathrow are scheduled to restart on 1 July.
Lufthansa will announce more details today or tomorrow, although no flights are expected until 15 June at the earliest.
Meanwhile, travellers to and from Finland will have to wait until 28 March 2021 for direct flights connecting Helsinki and Ljubljana from Finnair.
STA, 26 May 2020 - The Slovenian government has added new exemptions to the quarantine requirement for EU and Schengen zone nationals that in effect allow nationals from across the EU to enter the country as tourists, as long as they have a confirmation of booking. The same applies to owners of property in Slovenia.
The new regime took effect on Tuesday after the government late on Monday adopted a new decree that governs the border crossing regime not just with neighbouring countries but also on airports and ports.
Under the latest rules, EU and Schengen Zone nationals are required to quarantine for 14 days on arrival unless they qualify for what are now 17 exemptions.
Most of the exemptions are for business purposes. These include tourists with confirmation of booking and persons who own real estate, boats or airplanes in Slovenia (together with their family members), daily cross-border commuters, international hauliers, and persons hired to perform urgent services (in energy, health care, transport and utility services).
Some of the exemptions are for educational or health purposes. Persons crossing to get health services, those conducting humanitarian transport, students entering Slovenia or the EU for educational purposes, and EU researchers and teachers working in Slovenia may thus enter without quarantining.
Diplomats, those attending a relative's funeral, those with close relatives or spouses in Slovenia, and persons entering for a day to maintain contact with close relatives, are also exempted from quarantine. There is a special exemption for farmers who own property on both sides of any of Slovenia's borders.
The exemptions are a kind of stop-gap measure as EU countries gradually reopen borders based on bilateral or multilateral agreements in lieu of an EU-wide agreement that has so far proved elusive.
Slovenia has so far signed such an agreement with Croatia, which means its nationals are allowed to enter without restrictions.
Third-country nationals (except if they are residents of Slovenia) must undergo 14-day quarantine, but here too there are exemptions. These include hauliers, diplomats, those attending a relative's funeral, persons performing urgent commercial services, and persons in transit who enter and exit Slovenia the same day.
STA, 25 May 2020 - The Covid-19 lockdown meant Slovenia recorded no tourist arrivals in April, while the number of recorded overnight stays was 11,000. This is 99% less that in April 2019 and was mostly accounted for by ongoing student exchange programmes. The lockdown for tourist facilities was in place from mid-March to 18 May.
According to preliminary figures, released on Monday by the Statistics Office, the January-April period saw slightly over 660,000 tourist arrivals, a 52% decrease year-on-year. Overnight stays totalled at 1.8 million, a fall of 46%.
Arrivals by domestic tourists stood at 259,000, a 44% drop, and overnight stays at 777,216, a 39% decrease. For foreign tourists the drops were 56% and 51%, respectively, to 402,000 and 1.1 million.
More details on this data can be found here
Slovenia hosts several extreme sports and competitions, but one that stays relatively under the radar, with little publicity outside the immediate scene, is Red Bull “No Paws Down", where people on longboards go down a road known as Bear’s Guts, or Medvedje črevo, shown in the following image.
Screenshot from Google Maps
The road is hidden away by the Croatian border, near the settlement of Bezgovica, in the Municipality of Osilnica. It attracts thrill seekers because it’s a 4 km track with 18 180-degree bends, on which those who dare can reach speeds of up 80 km/h. As such it’s home to the annual KNK longboard camp each summer (official website), the highlight of which is the "Red Bull No Paws Down" event, mentioned above. In this competitors hurtle downhill, their hands, as the name suggests, never touching the ground – and if they’re lucky no other parts of their bodies either.
If you’d like to ride down Bear’s Guts then now’s your time to register for #KDNK2020, this year’s edition of the camp, to be held from 28 July to 2 August 2020, and with entry into the competition included in the price.
In slightly more detail, the camp will have 6 full days of free riding down this road, from 11:00 to 18:00, with track protection and road closure management, along with Professional Medical Assistance on the track (two fully equipped ambulance teams – two vehicles and four medics), a party every night and a lot more, with details on the official website and the related promotional text as follows:
Spend a full week skating one of the best freeride tracks in Europe and wider together with riders from all over the World. 4 kilometres, 18 hairpins, 6 days straight - upgrade your downhill and freeride skills while shredding the smoothest asphalt ever, consistent from top to bottom, swim in a beautiful river, enjoy the finest local cuisine and party with your old and newly made friends. We can’t wait to shred the Guts with you again at #KNK2020! (official website)
STA, 22 May 2020 - The Slovenian and Croatian foreign ministers, Anže Logar and Gordan Grlić Radman, met Friday to discuss the opening of the countries' shared border which has been closed, with some exceptions, as the countries are battling the coronavirus pandemic. They could however not yet provide an answer to when the border would reopen for everybody.
This was the ministers' first meeting in person. They met at the Dragonja border crossing police station today after having talked several times over the phone and videoconferencing.
They expressed satisfaction that the epidemiological situation in the two countries is very similar. "This will undoubtedly contribute to an agreement on easier crossing of the border," Grlić Radman told the press in a joint statement.
He also said that talks would contribute to make it easier for Croatians to cross the border into Slovenia, noting that the country was an important neighbour and partner.
He did not, however, say how this would happen. "The public will learn very fast when it is time."
Logar said that Slovenia was "playing with an open hand" in talks about border opening. However, the health of Slovenians must be protected and unnecessary risks avoided, he said.
Zunanji minister ??@AnzeLog z zunanjim ministrom ??@grlicradman o čezmejnem sodelovanju in skupnih ukrepih za odpravljanje posledic epidemije #COVIDー19 ? https://t.co/La9lYX5I1H pic.twitter.com/1fjAg7zNEh— SLOVENIAN MFA (@MZZRS) May 22, 2020
At the moment, Croatia is the only country from where passengers can enter Slovenia without restrictions. Meanwhile, Slovenians can enter Croatia if they have property in the country, a holiday reservation, business or important personal obligations in the country.
The ministers also welcomed the EU's recommendations on the easing of restrictions as regards border permeability.
Logar also commented on the opening of Slovenia's borders with Austria and Italy saying that epidemiological situations in the two countries would have to be taken into account and that Slovenia was doing everything in its power for this to happen as soon as possible.
He also underlined that this would be done in bilateral agreements, adding that Slovenian diplomacy was proactively seeking such agreements.
The ministers also talked about open issues between the two countries. Logar said that they focused above all on issues they themselves could tackle and issues in which the countries have fund a high level of agreement.
Logar also said that Croatia was in a unique position at the moment: presiding the EU Council and getting ready for a parliamentary election simultaneously. "It is a specific time that imposes relatively strong restrictions on talks," Logar said.
Grlić Radman expressed the willingness to discuss all open issues, but also added that these should not come to dominate the countries' relations.
The countries' main open issue is the implementation of the 2017 border arbitration decision which Croatia refuses to accept as binding.
STA, 20 May 2020 - A week after international air passenger transport with Slovenia was allowed to resume, the timetable of flights to and from Ljubljana airport is still up in the air, with some airlines postponing the relaunch of their flights. Much remains dependent on the opening of borders and conditions for travelling across borders.
While some airlines communicated their plans to the airport operator Fraport Slovenija regarding relaunching flights after the ban, initiated on 17 March, was lifted, a lot remains uncertain.
The Serbian air carrier Air Serbia has announced it will start flying from Jože Pučnik Ljubljana Airport twice a week again on 29 May.
Lufthansa is expected to relaunch daily flights to and from Frankfurt in mid-June, while Air France plans to start operating flights to and from Ljubljana twice a week at the end of June.
On the other hand, the Dutch low-cost airline Transavia has cancelled all flights until the end of June, and the Finnish flag carrier Finnair has suspended their plans for flights to and from Helsinki for the entire summer, which effectively means until the end of the year.
The remaining airlines which had operated flights to Ljubljana before the suspension have not yet responded to queries from Fraport Slovenija about whether they would relaunch their flights.
The Ljubljana airport operator had expected a clearer picture about the relaunch of international air passenger transport this week, but this is not likely as Croatia is the only country so far whose nationals may enter Slovenia without limitations.
Much will also depend on how the coronavirus pandemic will be managed in Europe, to what extent European economies and tourism will recover and in what shape airlines will be after everything is said and done.
This year's summer schedule for Ljubljana airport, which was to enter into force on 29 March, included 17 carriers flying to 22 destinations in 15 countries.
Fraport Slovenija recently said that it would take a while before the airport reached the figures from last year, when it had served 1.72 million passengers. This was a drop of 5% compared to 2018 due to the troubles of the since bankrupt Adria Airways.